John Searle - The Normative Structure of Human Civilization

John R. Searle, who already in his early work on speech act theory made major contributions to the development of the Philosophy of Language, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. Searle is regarded as one of the most important participants in the debate about the “new realism” (see recent conference: “Prospects for a New Realism”, Bonn, March 26 through March 28, 2012). In addition to numerous honorary doctorates, including from the Universities of Turin, Belgrade and Wisconsin, he is an Honorary Professor at the Universities of Beijing and Shanghai. The many distinctions he has been awarded include the Pufendorf Medal (2006) and the Jean Nicod Prize (2000).

His book “Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization”, this year published in German under the title “Wie wir die soziale Welt machen: Die Struktur der menschlichen Zivilisation” (Suhrkamp, Berlin 2012) is at once an introduction to his thinking and a continuation of his classic work, “The Construction of Social Reality” (Die Konstruktion der gesellschaftlichen Wirklichkeit) published in 1995. Starting from familiar dichotomies such as language and the mind, spirit and nature as well as freedom and determinism, in his most recent work he raises questions regarding the origin of institutions, the logic of power and the status of human rights. The fundamental “social ontology” he develops in the process results in a comprehensive theory regarding human civilisation: The focus is on no less than the question as to “whatever holds the world together in its inmost folds”. As the title of the lecture already suggests, a special focus will be on the normative aspects of socialisation.